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Is Life Better than Death?

Since 10:15 am last Wednesday, the words have echoed repeatedly in my mind, reminding me, again and again, of my relative insignificance and the futility of life. If a banana is an antidepressant, then Hamlet is inedible.

"To be, or not to be--that is the question:

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles

And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--

No more--and by a sleep to say we end

The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep--

To sleep--perchance to dream" (William Shakespeare's Hamlet 3.1)

(A note to all Shakespearean enthusiasts, I apologize for not including the whole monologue, and apologize on behalf of my family, state, and country, if this is a disrespect to the work as a whole).

Nonetheless.... I think two thoughts at the same time: 1) is existence by nature evil? Perhaps then is procreation immoral? And does life yield more pleasure and pain and can these qualities be quantified? 2) What is death? How harmoniously does my skepticism align with my religion? Is certainty in all its cruel afflictions superior to a stark unknown dimension?

Once again, I find myself short of answers and short of opinion. IS LIFE BETTER THAN DEATH? Well, I don't know as what is death? Yet, what I can comprehend is that life is all I know (or what at least I think I know) and in spite of its "troubles", "outrageous fortune", "heartache" and inevitable flaws, life like death is also unknown and expanding with potential for nearly anything--fathomable or not.

Although unable to conclude that mortality is the paramount form of the soul, of existence, or the greatest gift permissible, I can surely admit that for me, life is better than ceasing to exist all together. The ability to think, to imagine, to dream, to live, while by natural imperfect, is simultaneously the natural embodiment of beauty, light, and goodness. If life is suffering, then give me suffering; give me heartbreak, endless homework assignments, college applications, unrelenting questions, and perceived chaos, if it means giving me a mind, a heart, and an endless supply of free opinions, smiles, and thoughts.

The question is not "to be or not to be" but rather "to be or to be and think". Despite our individual views on Hamlet's controversial and widely recognized soliloquy, the choice lies not between life and death, but rather between existence and enlightenment.

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